Its been the senior backcourt of Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije that has done it almost all year for Syracuse, and it was only fitting that on Senior Day when one struggled, the other more than picked up the slack. Gbinije scored a career-high 34 points in the Orange's 75-66 victory over NC State.
"Mike was unbelievable today," head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game. "He just put us on his back and carried us. It was his game. Probably as good as any senior's ever had that I can recall."
The senior point guard scored 22 points in the second half. Gbinije finished 11-18 from the floor and hit eight three pointers against the Wolfpack.
"It was like a New York City all-star game," Malachi Richardson said. "I don't even know why he was calling plays. He should have just dribbled up and shot it every time. I'm glad he went out the way he did."
As it got later in the game, Gbinije got better and better, scoring 17 of the final 24 Orange points.
"As the game progressed, I started to test things out," Gbinije said. "Shot after shot I'd say 'that felt good, that felt good.' And just like that, I had a good game."
Gbinije wasn't the only Syracuse (19-10, 9-7) player that played well against NC State (14-15, 4-12), with Richardson stuffing the stat sheet, finishing with 13 points, seven assists, six rebounds, three steals and a block. Tyler Lydon finished with 11 points and five boards.
The Orange shot lights out from the beginning and finished shooting over 46 percent from the floor. Syracuse hit seven threes in the first half including a deep shot from Richardson with six seconds left to go up 34-26 at the break.
"When we make seven threes in the first half, we're just a different team when we make those shots," Boeheim said.
While one senior played the game of his career, another played one of his worst. Cooney scored only five points and had only one field goal. He knocked down three free throws in the final 37 seconds to make his point total what it was.
"It was very special, and to leave here on a win was something I wanted to do no matter what," Cooney said. "The last couple of senior days we haven't won, so it was nice to go out a winner."
The Wolfpack hung around the entire game, even after they went down by 17 with 16 minutes to go. A big reason for that was Caleb Martin who scored a team-high 18 points. Abdul-Malik Abu came up big for the Wolfpack, finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Orange held the ACC leading scorer, Cat Barber to 15 points, nine below his season average.
The Orange will finish out the regular season on the road, going down to North Carolina to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels Monday night before closing out the regular season against Florida State next Saturday.